Lionel Messi broke down in tears after his dream of winning the Champions League for a fifth time with Barcelona collapsed against Liverpool.
The Argentina international was inconsolable in the Barcelona dressing room following the 4-0 defeat at Anfield, where the Spanish champions were on the receiving end of an incredible comeback in Europe for the second season running, having won the first leg 3-0 at the Camp Nou. Last season in the quarter-finals Barça beat Roma 4-1 at home but collapsed in the away leg to lose 3-0 in Rome and go out on away goals.
Messi was then selected for a drugs test by anti-doping officials and the team coach departed for Liverpool John Lennon Airport without him as a consequence.
Reports in the Spanish media have claimed that, on his eventual arrival at the airport, Messi was involved in an angry confrontation with a group of Barcelona supporters furious at their team’s latest collapse in the Champions League.
Luis Suárez apologised for the manner of Barcelona’s exit and insists the players are ready to face the criticism heading their way. “We are very sad, hurt,” he said. “We are human beings, we feel the pain, the frustration. We have to do self-criticism, put our chest out for the bullets of what is coming now.
“It cannot be that in a minute we concede two goals. The fourth goal we looked like youngsters. We have to understand all the criticisms that are going to rain on us.”
Barcelona’s president, Josep Bartomeu, described the defeat as a “disastrous night” for the club and the manager, Ernesto Valverde, accepted questions would be asked of his future following another European failure.